“Have you suffered for knowledge’s sake?”--Nietzsche
To me Nietzsche is a Prometheus figure who paid dearly for engaging the gods and giving the flame to humankind. A brilliant mind and a broken body.
"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."
"Not when truth is dirty, but when it is shallow, does the enlightened man dislike to wade into its waters"
"One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly."
"The lie is a condition of life."
"We have art in order not to die of the truth."
"All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth."
"There is not enough love and goodness in the world to permit giving any of it away to imaginary beings."
"This is the paradox of my existence: I have loved life passionately but have never dared to channel this love in the direction of normal erotic experience.... Why must my head split open with the roar of a thousand seas, I who loved the stillness of the mountains and walked alone through miles of utter silence?"
"A person can live only so long as he is drunk - drunk on wine, woman, ideas or Messianic passion. And in my Dionysian thirst I have been intoxicated with everything - even with the monkeydom of Darwin and the positivists. But try as I may I cannot go Buddhist and get drunk on death. The idea of sinking into nothing horrifies me; Like Dostoevsky I am overcome by the frozen horror of eternity; to sleep for a billion years and never again see the dawn rising above the mountains...never again...never again."
"I fear that we will never rid ourselves of God so long as we still believe in grammar." Nietzsche
Human language is the justification of the gods. What can be stated orally or written down can obfuscate reason and reality. The Religions that dominate most of the world have a book. It is written down and thus it must be true! IF it can be spoken it is so. This is the power of human language...it can override reality by just a sound and a symbol. No matter the tyranny of the actual the sound and the symbol drive deep in human psyche. No matter how much suffering, death, natural explanations, diversity of opinion, scientific progress and critical thought the religious apologist can say "God is..." who can resist the sound and the symbol? The problem of evil is solved with a simple sound and symbol. "God has his reasons...it is the best of all possible worlds." Ah what justification! Without human language the gods would not exist. The gods are mortal. When the human species goes extinct what symbol or sound will justify the gods? Who shall defend the faith with no human voice? Humans that justify Gods do so because the Gods justify them. I hear and see the sound and symbol "God created man" and in that Man created God. The creation of the Gods is the hubris of humanity.
A young shepherd I saw, writhing, gagging, in spasms, his face distorted, and a heavy black snake hung out of his mouth. Had I ever seen so much nausea and pale dread on one face? He seemed to have been asleep when the snake crawled into his throat, and there bit itself fast. My hand tore at the snake and tore in vain; it did not tear the snake out of his throat. Then it cried out of me; "Bite! Bite its head off! Bite!" Thus it cried out of me — my dread, my hatred, my nausea, my pity, all that is good and wicked in me cried out of me with a single cry.
The shepherd, however, bit as my cry counseled him; he bit with a good bite. Far away he spewed the head of the snake — and he jumped up. No longer shepherd. no longer human — one changed, radiant, laughing! Never yet on earth has a human being laughed as he laughed! O my brothers, I heard a laughter that was no human laughter; and now a thirst gnaws at me, a longing that never grows still. My longing for this laughter gnaws at me; oh, how do I bear to go on living! And how could I bear to die now!
Nietzsche - Thus Spoke Zarathustra
"The Vision and the Riddle" ends with a shocking scene where Zarathustra comes upon a shepherd with a snake in his throat. The snake--"the heaviest and the blackest"--could symbolize the choking effects of the slave morality, and, as my students have suggested, the snake's head, which Zarathustra exhorts the shepherd to bite off, could represent the Christian God himself. At the passionate urging of Zarathustra, the shepherd does decapitate the snake and is immediately transformed: "No longer shepherd, no longer human--one changed, radiant, laughing . . . a laughter that was no human laughter."95 After the death of God, there is only eternal recurrence, and this "cosmic" laughter of Hesse's immortals is the only proper emotional response to such a meaningless existence. As Graham Parkes says: "laughter [is] an often necessary concomitant of insight into the way things are."
Cosmic laughter is different from the laughter of the child who is the only being capable of loving herself and embracing every moment without any awareness of the terror of the inevitable return of many similar moments. Cosmic laughter is instead the "Olympian laughter" of the "deeply wounded,"97 those, like Nietzsche, who have suffered greatly, who know eternal recurrence as an "abysmal thought," but who still realize that they must embrace it with a child's acceptance. It is the laughter of the lion, who has come home to Zarathustra's mountain retreat resigned to the futility of all his Nay-saying and protesting-- in short, a reformed Titan.98 It is also the laughter of the Daoist sage or Zen master who says "Yes" to anything and everything in the universe, even though at its core it is a faceless hundun. Excerpted from N. F. Gier, Spiritual Titanism: Indian, Chinese, and Western Perspectives
Zarathustra, however, remained standing, and just beside him fell the body, badly injured and disfigured, but not yet dead. After a while consciousness returned to the shattered man, and he saw Zarathustra kneeling beside him. "What art thou doing there?" said he at last, "I knew long ago that the devil would trip me up. Now he draggeth me to hell: wilt thou prevent him?"
"On mine honour, my friend," answered Zarathustra, "there is nothing of all that whereof thou speakest: there is no devil and no hell. Thy soul will be dead even sooner than thy body: fear, therefore, nothing any more!"
The man looked up distrustfully. "If thou speakest the truth," said he, "I lose nothing when I lose my life. I am not much more than an animal which hath been taught to dance by blows and scanty fare."
"Not at all," said Zarathustra, "thou hast made danger thy calling; therein there is nothing contemptible. Now thou perishest by thy calling: therefore will I bury thee with mine own hands."
When Zarathustra had said this the dying one did not reply further; but he moved his hand as if he sought the hand of Zarathustra in gratitude.
There is a correlation between suffering and consciousness. The greater the awareness the greater the suffering. How does the human being balance suppression and awareness? "When sufferings become unendurable the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.”-Bertolt Brecht
"The individual has to protect himself against the world, and he can do this only as any other animal would: by narrowing down the world, shutting off experience, developing an obliviousness both to the terrors of the world and to his own anxieties. Otherwise he would be crippled for action. We cannot repeat too often the great lesson of Freudian psychology: that repression is normal self-protection and creative self-restriction—in a real sense, man's natural substitute for instinct.Rank has a perfect, key term for this natural human talent: he calls it "partialization" and very rightly sees that life is impossible without it.What we call the well-adjusted man has just this capacity to partialize the world for comfortable action.
In other words, men aren't built to be gods, to take in the whole world; they are built like other creatures, to take in the piece of ground in front of their noses. Gods can take in the whole of creation because they alone can make sense of it, know what it is all about and for. But as soon as a man lifts his nose from the ground and starts sniffing at eternal problems like life and death, the meaning of a rose or a star cluster—then he is in trouble. Most men spare themselves this trouble by keeping their minds on the small problems of their lives just as their society maps these problems out for them. These are what Kierkegaard called the "immediate" men and the "Philistines." They "tranquilize themselves with the trivial"—and so they can lead normal lives.
The neurotic is having trouble with the balance of cultural illusion and natural reality; the possible horrible truth about himself and the world is seeping into his consciousness. The average man is at least secure that the cultural game is the truth, the unshakable, durable truth.
For the neurotic however, as Camus said, "the weight of days is dreadful."
When Fyodor Dostoevsky was arrested on April 23, 1849 and sentenced to death for being a radical and threat to the Czar-- the Russian police had him lined up in the freezing cold and ready to shoot him down. They left him there waiting for the blast of gunfire that would take his life. During this time the others lined up broke down but Dostoevsky remained steadfast. After this exercise he was imprisoned in Siberia and spent four years of hard labor with many other prisoners who were in for murder. During this time Dostoevsky realized that these fellow brutalized humans in Siberia were what Nietzsche called the strong sick man. They had a strength and a resource that the average human could not draw from but this inner power was poisoned with the criminal mind. Dostoevsky recognized a virtue in this inner force that was a push back with energy that gave one the resources to deal with anything. Dostoevsky's dynamic mix. Dostoevsky had a critical mind to be able to see the good in the presumed bad and the bad in the perceived good. Nietzsche stated "The criminal type is the type of the strong human being under unfavorable circumstances: a strong human being made sick... Dostoevsky, the only psychologist, incidentally, from whom I had something to learn...lived for a long time among the convicts in Siberia—hardened criminals for whom there was no way back to society—and found them very different from what he himself had expected: they were carved out of just about the best, hardest, and most valuable wood that grows anywhere on Russian soil."
The Warrior Scholar
In the movie Eastern Promises the character Nikolai played by Viggo Mortensen reminds me of Dostoevsky's strong criminal. A dual force of brutal strength and compassion with understanding. This dualism is what Dostoevsky was observing in the harshness of that Siberian prison. ElieWiesel who survived the hell of Auschwitz wrote, "But now, I no longer pleaded for anything. I was no longer able to lament. On the contrary, I felt very strong… My eyes had opened …" That resource that came to him as a bolt of lightning can be very powerful as long as one survives its touch. It is like an eagle that does not look for shelter during a storm but rises above the clouds and the storm itself. Tupac talked about a rose that grew from concrete. It would rise with deformities due to its struggle but it would be much more powerful and stronger than most for the same reason.
A deep pool of strength and defiance energized by adversity and yet it is combined with a calm steel like peace. Like the fictional fight club it starts with cookie dough characters whose biggest crisis is missing their favorite tv show and ends in those being carved out of wood and tougher than leather who are able to remain resolved and cool in various degrees of high drama. "We burn the fat off our souls."
"A poet is an unhappy being whose heart is torn by secret sufferings, but whose lips are so strangely formed that when the sighs and the cries escape them, they sound like beautiful music... and then people crowd about the poet and say to him: Sing for us soon again; that is as much as to say, May new sufferings torment your soul." Soren Kierkegaard
"What is it that the soul of the tragic artist communicates to others? Is it not precisely his fearless attitude towards that which is terrible and questionable? A courageous and free spirit, in the presence of a mighty foe, in the presence of sublime misfortune, and face-to-face with a problem that inspires horror--this is the triumphant attitude which the tragic artist selects and which he glorifies...he is used to suffering, he looks out for suffering, the heroic man, extols his existence by means of tragedy--to him alone does the tragic artist offer this cup of sweetest cruelty. " Friedrich Nietzsche
"Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about things that matter" Dr. Martin Luther King
Author of Blog
Born in the United States of America. Spent my Childhood in Kenya, East Africa. Graduate of George Mason University in Global Affairs with a concentration in Africa and the Middle East. What I desire is not total agreement but thoughtful people. To share ideas and expand knowledge in the era of globalization.